On April 21st 2017, American rock band Incubus released their eighth studio album, appropriately titled ‘8’ (via Island). The album comes off the back of their somewhat forgettable ‘Trust Fall (Side A)’ EP and is the first full-length studio album since 2011’s ‘If Not Now, When?’.
Frontman Brandon Boyd has said in interviews that ‘8’ was an album that took Incubus back to their traditional sound (conveniently following complaints that ‘If Not Now’ and ‘Trust Fall’ strayed too far from it) and upon listening, this claim turns out to be (mostly) lies. There was only one song on this album that sounds like it could be from ‘traditional’ Incubus, and even that sounds Incubus trying to be Incubus. ‘8’ is the first time the band has worked with producer Dave Sardy, and if they’re smart, probably the last. The mixing on this album is shoddy at best, with lead single ‘Nimble Bastard’ sounding absolutely horrible – Spotify labels the album version of ‘Nimble Bastard’ as ‘new mix’ which is a shame because the original single’s mix was a lot better and infinitely more listenable.
Generally the album feels fairly self-serving and very pretentious, but has a couple of decent songs dotted around. Opener ‘No Fun’ is a fairly acceptable alt. rock tune with all the catchy riffs and choruses you’d expect from an acceptable alt. rock tune. ‘State Of The Art’ is an incredibly pretentious tune with a slower tempo, which contrary to Boyd’s claims, sounds like it was lifted from ‘If Not Now, When?’s cutting room floor. The lowest point in this album comes in the form of the 57 second transitional tune ‘When I Became A Man’, which is honestly just fucking awful. The song ‘Love In A Time Of Surveillance’ starts with a really annoying dial up internet sound clip, before kicking in with a fairly heavy ‘Make Yourself’-ish guitar riff – there’s a lot of descending notes in the riffs which could be representative of the band’s rapid decline in quality. The rest of the album alternates between pretentious and slow or generic alternative rock, which may or may not be a bad thing dependant on your familiarity with Incubus’ back catalogue – the song ‘Familiar Faces’ is probably the best track from ‘8’, sounding the most like classic Incubus.
This album will resonate well with any new fan of Incubus who was never attached to the old stuff, or any old fan who needs to be put to sleep by something pretty boring and uninteresting. It’s hard to say that anything on ‘8’ will be still on Incubus’ set in ten years, but for now we can only hope the live renditions are slightly more interesting.
‘8’ is available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music and is available to purchase from iTunes and shops now.